September 13, 2015
JAMES PAJK - American Society of Civil Engineers
Ohio is in a unique position: we are within a day’s drive of 60 percent of the U.S. and Canadian population, making us a major corridor for moving goods, which in turn offers significant economic opportunities. However, future economic growth is only possible if we have a safe and efficient transportation network.
Ohio’s aging infrastructure includes more than 2,200 structurally deficient bridges and over 40 percent of our road miles are rated in critical, poor or fair condition. To make such upgrades a reality, Ohio needs the federal government to continue to be a partner in investing in our state’s roads, bridges, and transit systems. Right now, that partnership is in jeopardy.
Over a third of Ohio’s capital investment into our transportation network comes from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), which is the federal transportation bank account that reimburses states for projects.
The fund generates revenue each time you fill up your car’s gas tank through the federal gas tax at a rate of 18.4 cents a gallon. That rate, and therefore how much a motorist pays to drive on our roads, has not changed since 1993. Over the past few years, the fund has had a shortfall because it has been so long since it was given a raise; we are trying to pay for 2015 infrastructure using 1993 dollars.
To fill this gap, Congress has been moving money from the general fund into the Highway Trust Fund, thus adding to our nation’s debt. A business would never be run this way; the backbone of our nation’s economy shouldn’t be either. Rather than adding to the debt we will pass to future generations, Congress needs to seriously consider adjusting the per-gallon rate to restore the HTF to a solvent, self-supportive state. In the long run, such an increase would cost much less than what poor-condition roads are costing each of us now.
Currently, our poor transportation infrastructure is a drag on our economy and it’s costing you money and time. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, every Ohio motorist pays $413 in added vehicle operation costs because of poor road conditions. Paying a few more dollars at the pump is an investment that will save money in the long run.
Ohio’s Congressman Jim Renacci exhibited leadership on this issue in the past few months by proposing a bill that starts to put our transportation funding on better footing. Five additional members of Ohio’s congressional delegation signed on as co-sponsors of this legislation.
It’s reassuring to see the federal lawmakers we send to Washington leading on this issue and we have several more in key positions to get this accomplished.
For the sake of Ohio’s economic future, and the nation as a whole, now is the time for Ohio’s federal representatives to act and help grow Ohio’s economy.